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  • Writer's pictureCourtney Cheah

LOVING YOURSELF: Cultivating a loving relationship with yourself

What is the most important relationship you have in your life?

I believe the most important relationship you have in your life is the one you have with yourself. After all, you spend more time with you than with anyone else.

So how do you want that relationship to be?

Most of us have a persistent and often cruel inner critic, picking apart the things we do, or telling us we’re not good enough. We think about the things we should be doing better, or how much better we’d like to look, or how much more money we’d like to make, or what we would have liked to have achieved by now.

Cultivating a loving and healthy relationship with ourselves can make us feel calm, loved, happy and comfortable in our own skin. However, it isn’t something that necessarily comes naturally. We are conditioned from an early age by family, media and society at large to be critical of ourselves, to try to fit into an idealised image of what we ‘should’ be – whether it’s body image, worldly success, perceived popularity – and to feel bad about ourselves when we fall short.

None of which helps us cultivate a healthy relationship with ourselves.

In order to cultivate a loving relationship with oneself, it can be necessary to begin a process of unlearning – unravelling all the unhelpful conditioning and patterns you grew up with. A good place to start is noticing when you say something unkind or unhelpful to yourself, and asking if you would say that to someone else? If not, what would you say instead?

The words we say to ourselves matter – we hear them like someone else is saying them, even we don’t realise. They affect how we feel about ourselves. Treating ourselves kindly is key.

Do for yourself as you’d do for someone you love and care for: speak kindly, be gentle when you make mistakes, prioritise your needs. If you feel overwrought, see if you can delegate some tasks. If you are tired, don’t feel you need to say yes to every social invitation – take time out for yourself too. If your body feels stiff and achy, have a hot bath, stretch, have a massage.

What makes you happy?

What do you love doing?

What would make you feel loved and cared for?

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